The WWE Universal Championship has long struggled to stake its claim as the top prize in the company.
Since its introduction in 2016, the WWE Universal title has struggled. The belt was meant to replace titles with important legacies in professional wrestling, and fans pushed back against that idea. The fourteen reigns in the titles history have each been hit with some form of controversy, making this championship a key example of a major struggle within the WWE.
The first thing that came to mind was how the WWE Universal title looked. Some fans grew to accept it, while others still failed to take the title seriously. It’s a true testament to how difficult it is to make a title mean something.
All major companies past and present have had this challenge when introducing new titles into the mix, but when introducing a main event title that is expected to headline pay-per-views, flagship shows, and hold up value internationally, the issue increases.
The challenge of creating new titles in professional wrestling
The first thing that comes to mind with almost all championships is lineage. All of us have had wrestling encyclopedias and learned about the value of the NWA championship and the WWE championship historically. Whether it’s the NWA, WWE, or even the world heavyweight championship, there is a backing of history to add to its value.
WWE has introduced new tag team belts numerous times throughout the years and they even attempted new singles titles like the 24/7 championship. The tag titles were able to be built up in a certain way during the repackaging of the tag team division.
The 24/7 championship did not have the same luxury and in a certain way, it served as a novelty act for WWE. It was a struggle, especially with the record-breaking hot potato title transitions that would happen in a span of a week.
Those were titles not tailored for the main event and it’s extremely risky when making new world titles that are expected to be a marketing success for every pay-per-view poster and show. The main event title is not exempt from possibly being rejected by fans.
The World Heavyweight Championship tournament is a reflection of the needed change when it comes to main event world titles. It’s unclear of what the next course of action will be and whether WWE will phase belts out in favor of a unified design.
Hearing the name of the World Heavyweight championship immediately evokes different emotions whether people remember the reigns of Batista, Rey Mysterio, and Triple H or the nostalgic fact that the belt itself brought back memories from the heritage of WCW.
The belt itself has to mean as much as the name, but WWE has something else in mind in terms of design, but Triple H is the one to unveil the belt has a deep meaning since it was over twenty-one years ago when Triple H was awarded the World Heavyweight Championship on RAW by Eric Bischoff.
It brings it full circle and that in itself has given the World Heavyweight title a significant boost, which differs from the unveiling of the Universal title. The one who wins this championship will be faced with the challenge of making the title mean something.
It’s not to say the Universal title has been all for nothing because since Roman Reigns gained it, the title has since been accompanied by the word undisputed. It seems like making a championship undisputed with a title reign that goes far beyond what modern wrestling fans have ever witnessed is a temporary fix to a bigger problem.
Making it part of the undisputed title reign is of course super glue to the situation. There were fans speculating about what would happen in the event that the Universal championship would go solo. It’s a scenario evidently that even WWE management can’t fathom, as evident with it always being all or nothing.
It became even more obvious with the World Heavyweight championship unveiling. The job doesn’t end with crowning a champion, it resumes with making it mean something on every stage. Time will tell if WWE has learned from the Universal title and other past trial and error with championships.
Fans won’t have to wait long as Seth Rollins goes against AJ Styles in the finals at Night of Champions. This match alone could play a major role in making the world heavyweight champion mean something in WWE once again.